Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Afghanistan: in the eve of second wave of covid-19

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Afghanistan: in the eve of second wave of covid-19

In parallel to changes in weather conditions, the concerns over second wave of covid-19 have also increased in Afghanistan. According to latest official reports, 283 positive cases has identified in last twenty four hours while 16 individuals have lost their lives in the same period. The total cases reported as many as 46, 489 while the death toll increased up to 1779 in the country. However, these figures do not reflect the whole victims or cases due to lack of systematic formal registration because of various challenges such as not having enough facilities, insecurity, and complex geography of Afghanistan. During the first wave of covid-19, the Ministry of Public Health estimated that some 10 million Afghans were infected with the corona-virus while formal registered cases were extremely lower than that.
Given the experience from the first wave of covid-19 in Afghanistan, it seems that the entire health facilities will not satisfy the needs of merely Kabul let alone the whole population in outspread geography of the country. The latest media report shows that the Afghan-Japan hospital in Kabul is still facing shortage of ventilators and other health equipment required to treat the patients.  The reports also quoted from Shereen Agha Naseri, a doctor at the Afghan-Japan hospital, that this hospital is still facing insufficient personnel numbers because the Ministry of Health itself reduced the number of personnel. So, it seems that Afghanistan is not properly ready to fight against second wave of covid-19 as we were not successful in the first wave.
Nevertheless, the people and citizens of Afghanistan are careless about the second wave of corona-virus and so do not follow the health recommendations during daily businesses and social events. Based on daily observations in Kabul city, there are very few people who wear masks, maintain social distances, wash hands and follow other health recommendations. Even, the level of health awareness and fighting strategies against covid-19 has largely declined in public media as if there are no threats under name of covid-19 in the country. If the current recklessness continues, there might be dreadful crisis in the country. Undoubtedly, it is not possible to isolate all people at homes in the current poverty crisis, but it is possible to enforce health regulations, raise public awareness and instructions such as using masques, maintaining social distance, washing hands and so on. We need to note that the virus spreads much better in inside closed spaces in the winter season rather than open environment in summer season. The next issue which added to the current concerns of covid-19 in the country is the unstoppable increase of food prices in eve of second wave of covid-19. Almost all food prices have increased in recent weeks and months.  For example, the cost of 7kg potato increased from 100 to 140 within few weeks; the cost of one kg liquid gas increased from 40 up to 60 within few weeks; the Price of 30 eggs increased from 150 to nearly 280 within few months; the price of one kg chicken increased from 140 to nearly 200 Afs within few weeks; the price of 50 kg flour increased from 1400 to nearly 1800 within few months. If the government does not control the current conditions, we should expect a severe human tragedy in Afghanistan. We must note the economic condition of present year, given the current economic condition, differs to the previous years and the people really cannot tolerate this economic pressure. Undoubtedly, the free market system has been accepted in national law, but it has not accepted every illegal behavior such as hoarding, monopolies, inflation and injustice to intensify a growing crisis.
Moreover, the general spirit of national law requires the governments to ensure social justice, social health and social security in their countries. So, any threats either in form terrorist attacks or in form of free market monopolies, damping or hoarding should be seriously controlled by governments. No unfair economic behaviors which cause health crisis, inflation, widespread injustice, and class distances are allowed. Therefore, the respective institutions need to make sure that all people have equal access to required food and health facilities needed in this hard time. Thus, the government has to establish a specific unit so as to regularly supervise the free market system because the misuses from free market system has frequently repeated in Afghanistan and so the government needs to have regular supervision from the free market. Whenever, the unit feels any oppressive behaviors in the market, it must immediately interfere.
As a last point, we should note that no country has yet developed a certified vaccine or drug to combat the disease. However, there are some companies that likely reached in the final steps, but no one has endorsed yet. Even, if the vaccine is endorsed and taken the license for distributions, it will not be accessible Afghanistan in the near future.   Therefore, the first and most important way to deal the virus is preventive measure. The experience such as in china also shows that preventive measure is the easiest and costless way to deal with the disease. In preventive measures, the media awareness and also individuals’ strategies can play the most important role like adhering to hygienic principles. Unfortunately, none of these are properly playing their preventive role at the moment. As individuals, we should not think that corona-virus will only infect the neighbors, and as media we must launch a national campaign to defeat the second wave awaking people of consequences if they persist to neglect the issue.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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